Firebrand South African politician Julius Malema proclaimed his innocence today and said the money laundering charges against him were a political plot to silence his criticism of the president.

Malema is the most prominent critic of South African President Jacob Zuma and was expelled from the ANC party earlier this year for sowing disunity.

The former youth league leader has encouraged the strikes in South Africa’s mining industry, and has threatened to make the mines ungovernable.

“I have nothing to hide. I’ve never been part of criminal activity,” Malema said to a crowd of supporters outside the court building after he made his appearance. “They have nothing against me … They are wasting time.”

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